The Federal Government has begun a consultation process on behalf of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), to engage with the channel over ways it can enhance and deliver visa and citizenship services.
As part of this process, it has launched a consultation paper that channel partners and other local tech players can use to provide their feedback on the transformational program of visa reform.
The consultation paper, Delivering Visa Services for Australia, is available on AusTender and outlines the DIBP’s vision for visa reform and seeks feedback on the roles that the channel could perform in designing and delivering the future visa and citizenship business.
It claimed that the “once-in-a-generation opportunity” for feedback from the channel is necessary for it to explore solutions to help design and build a new visa processing platform and to investigate ways to create a sustainable service delivery model.
As a result of this overhaul, the Department aims to maximise end-to-end digitisation and automation in visa processing.
To realise its ambition, the Department said it “hopes to leverage opportunities” and new technologies to better manage risk, increase efficiency, improve the client experience, focus the Department on core responsibilities and improve timeliness.
At the same time, it intends to retain sovereign functions, including policy functions, manual visa decision making and key security checks.
It claimed that the need for change comes as a result of a rapidly changing global operating environment that caused the Department to deal with multiple challenges.
These include globalisation, mass mobility with growing middle classes in emerging economies travelling more frequently, evolving threats that cross geographical boundaries and increased expectations for digital Government services.
“This environment is leading to rapidly increasing volumes of visa applications, requirements for more sophisticated risk assessment and pressures to deliver visa and citizenship services that are more internationally competitive, efficient and user-focused," the Department stated.
“To manage these demands without exponentially increasing costs, the Department is seeking to increase the level of market-provided and automated services of its transactional business. This would enable the Department’s staff to focus on the more complex elements of the visa business."
According to the DIBP, this presents the channel with a “unique and exciting opportunity” to be involved in the transformation of visa services, to better facilitate travellers, increase efficiency in processing and improve the overall visa applicant experience.
“DIBP encourages all organisations with innovative ideas and technology to take up the challenge and actively contribute during this period of consultation and the subsequent stages of design and sourcing. The market’s early involvement is key to building a state-of-the-art visa processing platform that can stand the test of time,” it said in a statement.
“The Department encourages participation from a diverse range of potential providers, large and small, including business process specialists, technology infrastructure and enterprise software experts, biometrics enrolment and verification providers, industry specific business processing or software vendors, robotics automation and artificial intelligence innovators.”
However, the DIBP added that this non-competitive consultation is just the first step of a “long journey”, with no immediate changes to arrangements with current contractors.
“This reform will potentially create opportunities for current providers but may also mean that DIBP needs to review some existing arrangements. There will be extensive consultation and engagement with existing contractors throughout the design and potential transitional stages of this transformation,” it added.
According to the DIBP, the next steps will include a sourcing and co-design process that begins with a request for one or more Expressions of Interest (EOI) and involves final proposals being submitted to Government when the Department seeks approval to issue any Requests for Tender (RFT).
The DIBP also stated that in addition to the service delivery reforms that are the focus of this paper, the Government is also investing in Australia’s visa risk and threat assessment capabilities by enhancing biometrics storage and processing capabilities to enable greater volumes of biometrics matching, storing, analysis and data sharing of facial image and fingerprinting through the introduction of new technology.
The Department will accept responses to the paper until 23 July 2017.